The Saskatchewan Hockey Association has introduced a rule saying female teams in Regina and Saskatoon can only have players that live in that city.

The decision means some rural players outside city limits may be forced to call it quits.

Jayna Pieper plays right wing for the Regina Pee Wee Capitals. Her sister Kearah is a goalie for the Capitals.

“I enjoy the sport,” Kearah said. “The girls are really fun to hang out with and it’s just a part of my life that I love.”

The sisters live in Duval, which is about 100 kilometres north of Regina. They make the trip into the city several times a week. But, their hockey future is unclear.

Next season, girls who live outside of Regina and Saskatoon won’t be able to play on teams in those cities. The Saskatchewan Hockey Association says the move is meant to promote female hockey in smaller communities.

“We’re not going back on that decision. That decision’s been made, our board’s not changing that,” said Kelly McClintock, general manager of the SHA. “Now these associations are starting to work together and are forming teams to start next year.”

The SHA says it has already seen an increase in rural teams.

But, Kim Delesoy from McLean says her teenage daughter will suffer for the long term benefits for hockey in rural Saskatchewan.

“We think it’s a fantastic idea to increase the rural population of female players,” she said. “However in the older division, such as the Pee Wee or older, it’s really tough to maintain and retain girls, and it’s even harder to get girls to sign up for a sport like hockey.”

But, the SHA disagrees.

“The reality is when they move outside the city, there are enough girls for them to have hockey teams to playon,” McClintock said. “The biggest question they had is they don’t feel that there (are) tiered hockey teams for them to play on.”

Midget AAA teams are exempted from the new rule. That exemption won’t benefit everyone.

The Piepers have only found teams in Moose Jaw and Melville to play in their age divisions. Jayna could also join a boys’ team.

“I did before I came to girls’ hockey,” Jayna said. “I wouldn’t probably consider going back, but I might have to. It wasn’t as fun in the dressing room, it wasn’t as interactive. It’s more fun with the girls, everyone talks and just hangs out.”

McClintock says that if someone can prove they don’t have a team to play for, the SHA is willing to make exceptions.

“We always have concessions within our regulations to provide opportunities for that,” he said.

Based on a report by CTV Regina's Claire Hanna